Nearly a half dozen compelling reasons why it pays off to catch more Zzs. 

By Brigitt Earley
Updated June 04, 2015
Woman sleeping in bed
Credit: JGI/Daniel Grill/Getty Images

Though the exact amount of sleep someone needs is highly individual, one thing is clear: too little shuteye can cause serious problems—beyond grouchiness. Here, five reasons, supported by recent science, you might want to hit the hay a little earlier tonight.

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Woman sleeping in bed
Credit: JGI/Daniel Grill/Getty Images

1 You may eat more.

Lack of sleep won’t just make you groggy, it might also make you hungry, according to a new research review published in the Journal of Health Psychology. According to the paper, research has shown that after a sleepless night, the hormone that controls appetite is compromised and emotional stress is higher, triggering the body to crave food.

2 You could be at higher risk for dementia.

Poor sleep habits in older adults may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to scientists from the University of California, Berkley in a new study. “Sleep is helping wash away toxic proteins at night, preventing them from building up and from potentially destroying brain cells," Matthew Walker, senior author of the study to be published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, said in a statement.

3 You might make poor decisions—especially in a crisis.

If you have to make a split second decision, sleep deprivation could make it harder, according to a new study from Washington State University researchers, published in the journal Sleep. In addition to impairing your attention span, lack of sleep seems to inhibit the brain’s ability to process information and act accordingly, study author Hans Van Dongen, director of the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center at WSU Spokane, said in a statement.

4 You may gain weight.

Losing just 30 minutes of sleep per night might make you more susceptible to weight gain and metabolic issues, shows new research. The study authors say “sleep debt,” a term used to describe the hours of sleep people skimp on during the week, could eventually lead to obesity and insulin resistance, which is an indicator of diabetes.

5 You could be more emotional.

Sleep deprivation can affect the way people react to stressful situations, according to the new book Sleep and Affect: Assessment, Theory and Clinical Implications, co-edited by a University of Arkansas psychology professor and his former doctoral student. Sleep loss appears to cause the emotional regulation circuit of the brain to malfunction, says study author Matthew T. Feldner, a professor of psychology in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. “What we call 'stressors' tend to be more emotionally arousing for people who haven't slept well,” he said in a statement.